The practice of tapestry weaving is more than a thousand years old, although the word "tapestry" has only been in the English language since the 15th century. The process is performed on a loom. Unlike in traditional weaving which involves a specific starting point, tapestry weaving allows the practitioner to begin in any place she sees fit. Different colors can be added at various locations on the piece before it is withdrawn from the loom and secured.
Tapestry weaving involves creating colorful and complex images on a vertical loom. Although tapestry is believed to have first been practised in the third century BC, the word "tapestry" was first used in the English language in 1467 and comes from an old French word tapisserie, which refers to covering an item in heavy fabric.
The main materials used for tapestry weaving include a loom, toilet paper, a pencil and ruler, an idea of an image, and different colors of yarn. The number of colors and the length of yarn depends entirely on the size of the image. The loom must be warped with several heddles, which are cords or wires. It is advisable to choose a basic pattern which will not overwhelm the completed image.
When weaving a tapestry, it is best to make the image being woven as large as the final piece if possible. The pencil and ruler can also be used to draw in rows of weft, or the horizontal pattern, as this makes the colors needed for each row more visible when creating the image. The header should be woven using toilet paper as this causes the weft to be evened up which results in all threads being properly separated.
As tapestry weaving is different from the traditional method of weaving, it is possible to begin weaving in any section. For example, if the image requires a certain color to be placed in a particular place, the weaver can begin there without worrying about weaving from one end to another. If the starting point is in the middle of the piece, the shuttle, which holds the yarn, can be slipped in between the threads which make the top of the shed, the space between raised and lowered warp threads. When the point where the color stops is reached, the shuttle can be slipped back out through the threads.
Once an entire row of color has been completed, it can be beaten into place and the next row started. This process must be continued until the entire image has been completed. It is a good idea to use more toilet paper as a means of holding the threads in place until the completed project has been removed from the loom. When the knots at the ends of the piece are tied, the tapestry is complete.